Monday, March 28, 2011

The Rose Quilt

In the midst of a very busy day Saturday, I zipped on down to the Empire Quilt Guild show with the hubby to see my Bed of Roses quilt hanging in the show. Shortly after I got there, I ran into a friend who said, "Congratulations on your quilt!"

Congratulations? Yes indeedy! She won a ribbon!

What a lovely surprise! Looks like both my sister and I get something to keep...a quilt for her and this little beauty for me.

It was an interesting experience observing parts of the judging process, thinking about why I entered my quilt to be judged and seeing others reactions to the judges' decisions. Perhaps I will wax philosophical about it another time. For now, it just makes me smile to see that cheery ribbon hanging in my kitchen "studio".

p.s. It also made me smile to see that Victoria's quilt did very well too. Two ribbons! A second place for the "traditional" technique/machine quilted category and the prestigious judge's recognition. I knew about one of the last one from helping on judging day and went a little crazy keeping the secret! Hooray for Victoria!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why Do We Quilt?

(Note: I'm a guest blogger over on Victoria's blog today, but alas, the pictures didn't publish. What's a quilting blog post without pictures of quilts? So, here is the republished version with pictures.
Check out all her other fabulous guest bloggers posting their thoughts and retreat inspirations all this week!

Without futher ado...the post.)

I remember a story of a first generation immigrant (and first generation quilter) proudly sending one of her recently finished quilts home to her mother. The mother promptly sent a return letter, worried that her daughter was struggling financially and needed immediate help in her new life. Why else would she be scrounging up scraps to make her gifts?

It certainly isn't financial hardship that drives most of us to quilt. ( $10/yard the quilting addiction may in fact drive the rest of your budget to financial hardship!) So what is it that draws us to create in this form?

The retreat showed some of the reasons we quilt. I heard about sewing to unwind from stressful work, enjoying making gifts for others, and being inspired by other generations of family members. They shared quilts to be hung as art, quilts to be worn, and quilts to be used (and loved and washed and used some more). Quilts were inspired by and approached in many different ways. Some quilts had clear plans from the very beginning. Some grew from nothing more than a wisp of an idea and lots of play. Some quilts were inspired by an old pattern or a desire to have one "just like that!"

Why do I quilt?

I quilt because my grandmother quilts. She started quilting about 10 years ago and has become quite prolific. She likes bright colors and a bit of whimsy. She doesn't always follow the "rules". (That's appreciated around here, right?) She was the first person to give me a quilting lesson and we still enjoy sewing (and fabric shopping!) together.

("Coat of Many Colors Quilt", made by my grandma)

I quilts because quilts are all about comfort! When I am wrapped up in my grandmother's heart quilt, it is as if I've pulled her close to me across the miles, wrapping myself in a tangible expression of her love. It reassures me that my family is with me, even when they can't actually be with me. Making a quilt for some one else spreads that tenderness and warmth to one more soul.

(Grandma's Pink Heart Quilt)

I quilt because other people inspire me to step outside my comfort zone. Some of my most enjoyable quilts have been made for someone else. Victoria's love of "bathtub" Marys inspired this mixed media piece...something I never would have dreamed up on my own.

Making "Bed of Roses" for my vibrant and funky sister challenged my design abilities and pushed me outside of my color preferences of the time (Civil War prints, red and white, etc.). Now? Don't ask how often I think that my living room needs just a bit more fuschia and orange!

I quilt because ideas just set my brain on fire and beg to be made. A fabric, an image, a combination of colors, a certain kind of design...something just lights up inside and won't be still until the thing gets made! (Ok, let's be honest...until the thing gets started!)

My Great Lawn quilt in progress, inspired by this scene...)

I quilt because it's meditation. I remember how an hour at my sewing machine would relax and rejuvenate me after exhausting sessions in a grad-level movement analysis program. (Just thinking about those weekends might merit another session at the machine!) And the other night, when my brain absolutely would not shut up and go to sleep, the rhythm of sewing triangles together for 15 minutes quieted it right down and finally let me rest.

What makes you scrap scrounge, fabric splurge, cut things up, sew them together and make one more quilt?

Getting Ready for the Guild Show

It's the final days before our guild show and it appears quilts have taken over every surface of our living room. Two hang on the back of a rocker (one is usually was recently photographed and didn't go back where it usually lives). Everywhere else....WIPs!

"Bed of Roses" is almost completely finished. (Final pics coming soon!) Just need to finish sewing down the binding and she'll be ready to hang in the show.

The other two quilts will be for sale in the guild boutique. The Irish Chain quilt needs a bit more quilting and then the binding finishing. "1865 Trip Around the World" needs a little label love and the last corner of binding stitched down. (Doesn't that vintage handkerchief make a fun label? Thank you guild scrap table! Just stitching down the lace so it stays put.)

Also, I'm selling the last of my raffle tickets for this AMAZING quilt. All hand applique and hand quilted, with a real New York touch? Unbelievable! (All the blocks are applique versions of famous subway station mosaics. Cool, right?) Anyone interested? At $5 for 6 chances, you can't go wrong! You don't have to be present to win and they will even mail it to you. Let me know if you are interested....

What are you working on this week?

p.s. Check back here after the show to see if any of the boutique quilts still need a home. Yours, maybe???

Friday, March 18, 2011

Retreat Joy

Last weekend, I had the sheer pleasure to sew with these lovely ladies at a retreat sponsored by the fabulous Victoria. Boy were they inspiring!

Non-photo taking me didn't have my camera there for show and tell...and then didn't take pictures of everyone's projects, but oh my....if you visit their blogs, what wonders you will see!

Scrap-diving highlighted the weekend! See, even Jessica's son agrees!

Although, we didn't agree of everything. He apparently wanted a scrap for a ghost jacket and I kept looking for little bits of yellow. (Good thing he let go of that Jennifer Paganelli scrap and we didn't have to duke it out!)

I came home with the starts of brown, red and cheddar quilt...

some lovely yellow blocks...

as well as some scrap inspirations for several other projects. I'm dreaming up a red quilt (with splashes of deep purple), a feminine tan and purple quilt (maybe to include the little "Lady of Guadalupe" fabric from Victoria?) and something with the sweet yellow scraps from a baby dress.

Oh my, I had fun playing! So thank you ALL for such a lovely weekend. Your creativity, your scraps and your projects gave me so many new and wonderful ideas. Truly a pleasure to sew with you. Hope to do it again soon!